Have you ever met with a prospect for the first time and felt like the entire conversation was like pulling teeth? Maybe they took a bunch of "Oh I need to get that," phone calls or answered some urgent emails while you were waiting to ask your next question. Maybe you had to have your meeting on the phone, and you could sense the person you were meeting with was distracted and not focused during the little time you had.
In situations like this, you leave the appointment with little to no valuable information, no follow up direction, and what feels like a waste of your valuable time. Not all initial meetings go well, but did you know that the train wreck of a first appointment could have been prevented with better pre-planning on your part?
The frustration that comes from encounters like this are sometimes misdirected at the person being met with. Decision makers come in a variety of personality types. Label them as you will, but generally, you encounter the direct and assertive, the friendly and jovial, or the defensive and combative - and maybe even someone who's a little of everything above. Regardless, it’s not their personality that makes a sales appointment good or bad. It’s how you approach and prepare for the first meeting that makes it good or bad.
Preparing yourself and your prospect is a best practice. One of the most powerful free tools you can use to do this is Google search. There are a few ways you can search to find really valuable information you can use to help prepare for your meeting. Before we go there, I want to touch on the importance of using a valid business reason when you're working towards getting the first appointment initially.
Building rapport helps increase the comfort level a prospect has when meeting with you for the first time, and rapport building can begin before you even get the meeting. If you use a valid business reason that illustrates empathy, your expertise, and your ability to provide solutions, you are more likely to get an appointment. It also begins to establish your ability to be a valuable business partner. When done well, the prospect is likely to be more open and engaged during the initial meeting itself.
So, now we turn back to preparing for the meeting. It’s critical you don’t ask your prospect questions you could have found the answer to online before the sales appointment. Focus on taking the information you find online to help form questions that show you’ve done your homework and can relate back to their potential desired business results.
To start, there are three searches you should be sure to conduct before sales appointments:
1. Search the Business Category and Trends
When you are using Google to search, consider using key phrases that touch on topics likely to impact their business. For example, if you are about to meet with a local plumber servicing the metro area, find what challenges they might be facing by searching, “consumer trends in choosing a plumber in [your city],” or “how a consumer chooses a plumber.” Searches like this help you to think like a plumber and therefore develop more thoughtful needs analysis questions.
2. Search the Business Name
A Google search on the business name is also helpful in finding reviews and social media pages that can help you learn more about how that business relates to current or potential customers online. You might also notice if there are any opportunities to learn more about the customer journey specific to their business.
3. Search the Person You are Meeting With
Lastly, a Google search on the person you are meeting with can also be helpful. You can filter “news” to see if there’s any new press that could be relevant to an opportunity or current challenge. You might also click links to any social media profiles you might find helpful. Don’t be bashful on social media. If you come across an opportunity to connect on social media prior to your meeting, give it a shot, but don't take it personally if they don't accept to connect just yet.
A well thought-out valid business reason, and a well-prepared first meeting, are your best opportunity to earn trust and avoid the disappointment of a terrible initial encounter.